HAWTHORN premiership skipper Luke Hodge says the club is ``hopeful'' Lance Franklin will remain in the brown and gold, while understanding what many believe to be the reality of the situation.
It is believed Franklin will announce his decision to accept Greater Western Sydney's long-term multimillion-dollar offer in the coming days, meaning his last official duty as a Hawk was during the club's celebrations in its second home yesterday.
Speaking in Launceston, Hodge said until Franklin actually came out and made the decision, there was still hope.
``Everyone here at the football club wants him to stay and he knows that,'' Hodge said.
``We also understand it's a big decision for him. You don't know the numbers, but it's seems to be a lot of money that is being thrown towards him and it's a massive decision he's got to make.''
Hodge said the club would understand if Franklin did decide to accept the lure of the Giants.
``As players we're the ones that voted in free agency,'' Hodge said.
``So you've got to accept that players will be tempted by offers from other clubs.
``We're hoping his decision is to remain at Hawthorn, but we won't know that until tomorrow or later in the week.
``The longer it goes the more you're thinking the more chance that he's going to leave.
``But whatever decision he comes to, we'll accept that.''
Earlier yesterday Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold said he was proud the team had not let Franklin's future become a distraction during the season.
The Hawks only lost three times this year and capped an outstanding season on Saturday when they beat Fremantle in the grand final by 15 points.
Newbold sounded yesterday like a president who was resigned to losing the club's top player.
``I'm just trying to prepare myself and I think we've done that for the year,'' Newbold said.
``The other thing we're really proud of is the fact that we remained focused as an organisation on what we wanted to achieve despite some people saying that was going to be a distraction for us.
``The players and coaches handled that magnificently.''